When you jump in the water get ready to swim

Seems like every new technology we assimilate brings with it more new learning and responsibilities . . .

Last week when I was out of the office and needed some information I sent a text message via cell phone to a colleague back in the office. Trouble is, she wasn’t as adept at text messaging as I thought she would be, techno-savvy as she is. She said she was surprised to even get a text message. Well, she got a real quick crash course from another staffer, I got my info post-haste, and never would have known except that she told me that she now knows a whole lot more about text-messaging than she did before.

My colleague’s quick-learning experience was an example of what has happened to all of us as Communication 2.0 has become a ubiquitous part of our lives. When all I thought I was doing was writing a blog, I found that site feeds were an integral part of the process. Several years ago, I when I taught my mother (now a techy senior citizen) E-mail, I warned her not to give out her E-address unless she was ready to commit to reading it. Sure enough . . . . she got important messages and almost missed them due to not regularly logging on. Another family member loves his cell phone, but his kids know better than to leave him a voice message, because remembering how to retrieve them is just too much bother for his Luddite brain.

So, the moral of the story is —– If you give a Mouse a Cookie or a Moose a Muffin or . . . .

Tip – finding last date updated

I found a scrap of paper in my briefcase . . . can’t remember where I picked up this little bit of information, so here’s an apology to whomever I should give credit.

If you want to know the last time a web page was updated, while that page is displaying in your browser, enter this text in the address bar:

A small dialogue box will appear with the last date the page was uploaded. Note: this only works with .html pages.

Contagious attitudes

Thanks to Stephen Abram for the link to Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain by Kathy Sierra. (And even more thanks to Stephen for introducing me to the blog Creating Passionate Users.) It’s a long, well-documented post about the neurological effects of hanging out with unhappy people.

In the post, Kathy quotes Ghandi: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” She editorializes: If the scientists are right, I might also add, Be around the change you want to see in the world. Remember the flight attendant’s advice… you must put on your own oxygen mask first.

It’s ironic to find this post tonight, as I’ve been reflecting on the effect of group dynamics. In our consortium, many decisions are discussed and recommended through collaborative deliberation at meetings. I have often noticed similarities in group personalities when certain individuals are present, and how they change when certain individuals are absent. Likewise, attitudes in the staff at our office have been remarkably affected by the absence or presence of certain individuals.

I attended a very memorable management training session while working for the Air Force a number of years ago, one I have always remembered, and (I confess) less often heeded. The mood of a workplace (or even a family) is set by leadership – a sincere positive opening to the day is as contagious as a negative, grumpy beginning.

Who’s on top?

I was at a library committee meeting earlier this week when someone said “my director doesn’t understand what happens at the bottom . . . “ It bothers me (1) that the director didn’t care and (2) that the speaker felt like he was at the bottom.

Picture an upside down triangle, balancing on its tip. It seems to me that customers are at the top, with the library workers who directly serve them directly supporting them. The aforementioned director is at the bottom, supporting the structure that provides for customer service.

Placing the director at the top suggests that library workers and customers exist to support the director, which is not so – in any service industry. The director may not know all the minute details of what happens, but I sure hope would know that it’s the director’s job to support the workers and customers who are truly at the top.

People we count on

Yesterday was a pretty shocking day on a personal level. Not cataclysmic, like earthquakes or tornadoes, but life-changing nevertheless. Yesterday I found out that my hair stylist is moving away. Every four weeks for the past 6 years, I’ve walked to the business next door, collapsed in her chair, and Carol has made my bad-hair-day go away. Very few things in my life are as unsettling as having to find a new stylist – someone I can count on to keep me looking presentable. While I thrive on change and growth, I like those underpinnings of my personal life to remain intact and provide security.

People we count on for our well-being are very important and the thought of their not being there brings panic – people like a dental hygienist, a dog groomer, a hair stylist, maybe even a librarian? How wonderful to have someone in our life who we can count on not to know all the answers, but to be able to find a source for the answers. Someone who will not betray our trust if the information we seek is of a private nature, nor make us feel stupid if our question is something we think everyone else knows.

In this month of April, when we celebrate National Library Week and School Library Media Month – here’s a salute to all the library workers who provide that personalized service, citizens’ personal librarians.

How did Libraries get to this point?

. . . . my rambling thoughts about the relationship between change and the needy state of many libraries . . .

Change is inherent in living organisms, which if they were not changing would be dead. Change has always been part of cultures.

I think the panic in libraries is that we have been somewhat removed from change, and it has been thrust upon us. Libraries have enjoyed some immunity from change because of their revered stature in communities. For a while, that worked to the advantage of the library, because criticism of the hallowed institution was unthinkable. So although the library as an institution became more and more removed from relevancy, it was still the only show in town when it came to information.

Then came the Internet, Google, and a do-it-yourself culture which no longer thought it needed a professional information place. The situation has been further exacerbated by a history of acceptance of too little library funding. Libraries enjoy much good will, but good will does not buy a contemporary image that can compete in the 21st century. Modernization of many library buildings was already 10-20 years behind. Now, with the added need to fund technology and technologically literate staff, libraries are unable to fill the needs of their communities that can best be filled by a healthy library.

Libraries are struggling – admirably at best and frantically at worst. Through public funding, communities still maintain them as honored shrines, but are unable to fund the cost of exemplary buildings and service that many desire.

Niki won’t be here

This post is in memory of Niki, who won’t be coming to class any more. She worked in one of our school libraries. One of the students wrote this memorial to her in a poem: “ . . . You helped to teach by giving us the power to read . . . ” What a tribute to someone who was devoted to the kids and the library. She came often to training and lately, she’s been exploring the Voluntary Certification Program in order to enhance her skills.

Niki and her son Nick died of hypothermia, after getting stuck on a mountain road in Montana. She told me once about when her husband died, just a few years ago. Now they’re together.

We cancelled her registrations for upcoming classes today, she won’t be coming.